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Year 2001 No. 185, October 31, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Wild Accusations from the Prime Minister

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Wild Accusations from the Prime Minister

London Political Forum:
No to State Terrorism and War! For a Just and Peaceful Solution!

Birmingham Meeting Organised by Islamic Community Opposes War against Afghanistan

The Problem of Defining the Enemies of Britain

Blair Visits Syria to Urge Following the Coalition’s Aims

Medical Staff Complain of Inadequate Facilities at New PFI Hospital

Birmingham Public meeting:
Coalition Against War

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Wild Accusations from the Prime Minister

In the face of the growing opposition to the aggression against Afghanistan carried out in the name of the "war on terrorism", Tony Blair is resorting to wild accusations to shore up the parliament’s unjustifiable campaign.

Speaking to the Welsh Assembly on the "war on terror" yesterday, Tony Blair urged people not to forget why "we" are "in this conflict". First of all, he does not answer the basic criticism that revenge cannot be justified, that the loss of lives in New York does not call for or justify the killing of Afghani people, whether they are innocent civilians, the Taleban government or the alleged perpetrators of the terrorist act itself. It does not justify aggression carried out by sophisticated military hardware nor overt or covert operations to overthrow the Afghan government and replace its state with a UN protectorate, nor any other act of political intervention in Afghanistan. Are the coalition powers dispensing with the rule of national and international law or not? Rather than address this issue, Tony Blair claims that there is no alternative: "We have a job to do; and it is being done and will be seen through to the end."

To back this up, he alleges that not to do this, not to wage the military campaign against the Taleban, is to "have done nothing". And to have done nothing is, according to Tony Blair, to yield to a group of people who "can’t be negotiated with", who "have one hope", that "we lack the moral fibre or will or courage to take them on". This, on Tony Blair’s part, is an attempt at emotional blackmail. It is not an argument for a course of action, nor is any attempt made to present any evidence for these accusations against this "group of people". It is crude propaganda, tantamount to taking international relations to a state of barbarism, reducible to the statement "force is the only language these people understand", in other words the worst kind of uncivilised behaviour and the tactics of dehumanising an "enemy" in order to launch violence against it. To stoke up this emotional blackmail, Tony Blair urges his audience not to forget "how we felt watching the planes fly into the twin towers. Never forget those answering machine messages. Never forget how we felt imagining how mothers told children they were about to die." But it can be forgotten, apparently, how cluster bombs maim and kill, how cruise missiles with depleted uranium casings kill and irradiate, how .

Tony Blair appears strictly as a demagogue, appealing to prejudices that he and his government are creating. This can only be the interpretation of his wild accusations about the "group of people in Afghanistan who are the sworn enemies of everything the civilised world stands for". These wild accusations include: "they intend to commit more atrocities unless we yield to their demands which include the eradication of Israel, the killing of all Jews and the setting up of fundamentalist states in all parts of the Arab and Moslem world." No one has seen credible evidence of who were the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks on the US, despite Tony Blair’s new assertion that "the intelligence evidence … is now a flood, confirming guilt", that there is "latest evidence" that the "Taleban regime" and "Al Qaida" are "virtually a merged organisation". No organisation has claimed responsibility, let alone made demands. But now we are asked to credit new accusations. Where are these demands for the eradication of Israel, and so on? These insinuations Tony Blair puts forward as "facts". It is not even clear or spelled out to what he is referring. Are these insinuations references to Osama bin Laden’s statements or to something else?

After all the Prime Minister’s declarations that the war is not against Islam, that the terrorists’ actions are directed against those of all faiths and of none, Tony Blair cannot resist coming back to the accusation that the terrorists are demanding the setting up of "fundamentalist states", and that they have a fanatical hatred of any Moslems who do not share their "perverse view" of Islam. The issue here is that Tony Blair can only conceive, or wishes only to conceive, of states and of views of Islam which chime with the so-called "civilised" – i.e. Anglo-American and Eurocentric – conceptions and practices of statehood and political systems. It has been Anglo-American imperialism which raised the issue of "Arab terrorists" and "Islamic fundamentalists" in the first place. A terrorist act is a terrorist act and those responsible must be brought to justice. There can be no justifications for mass killings. But Tony Blair mixes in tendentious statements such as: "It is Al Qaida and the Taleban who are at war with anyone, whatever their faith, who does not share their maniacal, fanatical view of the world." And goes on: "He did not just hijack planes. He has hijacked a country from which he runs his terrorist, criminal activity. Now he would like to hijack a religion; and hijack the Palestinian cause too." On the contrary, Tony Blair has hijacked the Palestinian cause, and has always done so, by not recognising the right of the Palestinian people to statehood and condemning Israeli aggression, in the name of supporting the "Palestinian cause". He has hijacked a religion by drawing a demarcation line about what is acceptable in Islam and what is not.

It is a measure of the desperation of the Anglo-American ruling circles that Tony Blair has to resort to such intemperate and ill-considered accusations in the face of the opposition to their aggression and state terrorism. The prevailing sentiment of the people is that the war is indeed a fraud. The issue is not that Tony Blair is passionate about his cause, but that he does not have justice and right on his side and the disinformation is being punctured. Tony Blair is behaving as a Hitlerite in providing justifications for aggression, and the movement of the people in opposition must see to it that this aggression is brought to an end, and the alternative of a just and peaceful solution is brought into being.

Article Index

London Political Forum

No to State Terrorism and War! For a Just and Peaceful Solution!

This is the first in a new series of meetings of the London Political Forum discussing the political programme of opposition to the "War against Terrorism".

All comers are welcome to attend and contribute to the discussion.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 7.30pm

Marx House, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R

(nearest tube: Farringdon)

Speakers: London CND, NCP, RCPB(ML) and other Anti-War activists.
Open forum, all views welcome

Organised by London Region Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Article Index

Birmingham Meeting Organised by Islamic Community Opposes War against Afghanistan

A meeting attended by as many as 600 people was held on Monday evening at the REX Centre on the Coventry Road in Birmingham. They listened to speakers denounce the war against Afghanistan and responded positively to the call to step up the struggle against it.

Among the speakers was Salma Qaqoob, Chairperson of the Birmingham Coalition Against the War. She described her own personal experiences as a young Muslim, who was deeply affected by the September 11 atrocity in New York and the consequent act of state terrorism by the US and Britain in starting the bombing in Afghanistan. Her speech was very moving and in particular her decision to become active in opposing the war as a result. She said that Birmingham has a large Muslim community and many, many more are being mobilised as the feelings grow against the war. She said that there was no reason why 250,000 people would not attend the next protest in London on November 18.

One of the speakers was George Monbiot, Guardian journalist, who outlined the reason for the war as being the uncontrolled nature of the transnational companies and in particular the oil monopolies who see the Caucasus as the last key area of strategic interest for the West. He pointed out that it is the oil companies in particular who are pulling the strings of George Bush in the strategic goal of opening up Central Asia for the oil pipelines. This is the real reason why the war in Afghanistan is being organised, he said, and not terrorism. He also pointed out that the war was illegal and not in conformity with UN resolution 51, which talks about states defending themselves and not revengeful retaliation.

An Imam from the US talked about the necessity for Muslims and non-Muslims to unite in a just coalition against war. Another speaker denounced Tony Blair's government and the aggression it was carrying out as being unjust, unpopular and is being conducted "NOT IN OUR NAME".

Article Index

The Problem of Defining the Enemies of Britain

The government says it is considering how it might prevent Muslims in Britain who are opposed to the air strikes on Afghanistan from going to fight alongside the Taleban if their numbers increase.

"If there was evidence that large numbers of people were going to Afghanistan to fight with the Taleban then we’d have to look at the legal instruments that could be used," a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Tony Blair`s office said. Government officials say they are aware that some young people from Britain are flying to Pakistan to cross into Afghanistan to aid the anti-US battle, but there are no reliable figures.

Tony Blair`s office confirmed that invoking centuries-old treason laws was a possibility – although there were many issues that needed to be considered, such as the difficulty of gathering evidence from places like Afghanistan.

"The law on treason could cover certain circumstances but we don’t know the full facts. You’ve got to keep this in perspective in terms of the numbers of people involved," the spokeswoman said.

Immigration Minister Lord Rooker gave an indication on Tuesday that the government was to use the treason laws, which date back to 1351 and the reign of England’s King Edward III. Geoff Rooker told the House of Lords that treason was "like an elephant on the doorstep – you recognise it when you see it". This brings to mind the remarks of Britain’s UN Ambassador who said that if something smells like terrorism then it is terrorism.

A Home Office spokeswoman noted that Al Qaida was a proscribed organisation and anyone found guilty of belonging to Al Qaida or supporting it could already be jailed for 10 years under the Terrorism Act 2000.

However, it is difficult to see that the issue of fighting in defence of Afghanistan and of Islam in a military campaign initiated by the US and Britain could either be legally deemed support for Al Qaida or treason against Britain. In addition, the non-serious way the British government is treating the serious questions of the definitions of terrorism and treason seems deliberately designed to obfuscate and to serve the government’s interests.

Article Index

Blair Visits Syria to Urge Following the Coalition’s Aims

Prime Minister Tony Blair will appeal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad today to fall in with the aims of the "coalition against terror" and keep the Middle East situation of "no war, no peace" on hold by helping rein in Palestinian and Islamic groups so that no acts of violence are committed against Israel.

Aides said that Tony Blair, the first British Prime Minister to visit Damascus, would stress the need for all countries in the region to work for a period of calm to encourage the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

"The important thing we argue is that all those who have influence over any group which threatens violence should do all they can to restrain those groups...and get a period of peace," Tony Blair`s spokesman told reporters on his flight from Britain.

Tony Blair arrived in Syria on Tuesday on the first leg of a Middle East tour aimed at reviving the "peace process" and ensuring that Arab states stay on side in the "war on terror".

Syria remains on the US State Department’s list of "state sponsors of terrorism" because there on its soil Lebanese and Palestinian organisations committed to combating Israeli aggression. It says they are not terrorist groups but are legitimately fighting to liberate Arab lands from Israeli occupation.

Tony Blair`s spokesman said he did not expect to "resolve every difference" in his talks with Assad, but hoped to build on a "new momentum to break the cycle of violence". "They know our position on terrorism. We believe it is counter-productive... We need to hear what they have to say," the spokesman said.

Tony Blair`s aides said he was not bringing a new British blueprint for peace in the region and was not expected to try to overcome the impasse in Syria’s own dispute with Israel over its occupation of the Golan Heights.

"We do not have a blueprint. We do not have any great initiative to launch," he said. The framework for a resumption of peace talks had already been set out by a commission led by former US senator George Mitchell. Tony Blair hoped his visit instead could help build some confidence within all parties to the Middle East conflict that each side was exerting maximum efforts to restrain violence.

British officials have declined to say where Tony Blair will be travelling, citing security concerns, but officials in Saudi Arabia and Israel have said he will stop off in their countries and also hold talks in Gaza.

Article Index

Medical Staff Complain of Inadequate Facilities at New PFI Hospital

A House of Commons Select Committee on a visit to the North East's newest PFI hospital has been confronted with a catalogue of complaints from medical and nursing staff. The "University Hospital of North Durham", known locally as the Dryburn Hospital it replaced, is being investigated by the Committee because of its poor performance and increasing waiting times for patients. The £86 million hospital has 130 fewer beds and 1 in 10 fewer nurses than its predecessor.

Plastic surgeon Brook Berry said that six out of its ten operating theatres were only suitable for "minor operations". He explained that he had complained six months ago pointing out that the lighting was not suitable, yet nothing had been done.

Staff nurse Jan Lemmon was reported to have told the MPs that staff requirements were a low priority when the hospital was designed and she pointed out the cramped changing rooms with no hot water and that staff have to work in "appalling heat". She described wards that had no linen rooms, bedside buzzers that cannot be muted waking up the whole ward at night and fire doors that say keep closed in event of a fire on one side and keep open in event of a fire on the other.

A Trust spokesman whilst admitting the faults claimed these were simply "minor teething troubles" which the trust and its private sector partner were "smoothing out". He went on to say that they are inevitable when moving into such a complex facility and claimed that the design complies with all health and safety and NHS guidance. However, these phenomena vividly depict how the new PFI hospitals are being built to the cheapest specifications often without the required number of rooms, rooms far too small, and with inadequate air conditioning and heating as well as many other shortcuts which have been taken.

Hospitals require the most sophisticated construction and best equipment at the highest specification, which has always meant that investment must be found for such specifications. Such a requirement is not compatible with the aim of the government to make the building of new hospitals a direct source of profit to finance capital. By putting finance capital directly in control of the building, maintenance and the running of hospitals the lowest specifications possible are being implemented to bring the biggest returns regardless of the consequences for the patients and staff.

Article Index

Public meeting


Sunday, November 4, 3-5pm

Reaside Community Centre, Ormond Road, Frankley, Birmingham

The following leaflet is being distributed by the Campaign against Euro-federalism in support of the meeting being organised in Birmingham this coming Sunday.

Sensible people realise that bombing Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, by the world's richest and most powerful country is more likely to create terrorism than defeat it. Terrorism will only be defeated when poverty is rooted out and all nations are free to rule themselves as stated in the United Nations Charter.

Fortunately there is a rapidly growing protest movement world-wide and in Britain against bombing Afghanistan as shown by the massive 50,000 strong demonstration on Saturday 13 October in London and 3000 in Glasgow on the same day although the media played down the significance of the protests.

However, the movement must grow much bigger and gain in strength until the people of Britain can force a return to sanity and rule of law. That means the trade unions must play their full part and readers of this leaflet must do so too.

If this is not done we shall find our rights restricted. There is already talk of ID cards for everyone with information on them that only the authorities can read but you will not be able to do so.

Speakers include:

Salma Qaqoob
(Coalition against the War)

Muff Sourani
(Trade Union Organiser, MSF, Personal Capacity)

Adrian Ross
(MG Rover Convenor, Longbridge)

Ron Dorman
(Campaign against Euro-Federalism)

Ken Knapman (Chairperson)

RCPB(ML) Home Page

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